Our most frequently asked questions are answered below, and you can access the official
for even more background about the tour.
How do the 8, 10 or 12-day options work?
The core program is offered as an 8- or 10-day experience. The 8-day experience ends as we arrive to Tel Aviv on Thursday evening (no overnight in Tel Aviv is included). The 10-day core experience includes touring in the Tel Aviv region on the final Friday and Saturday, including two overnights at a beach-side hotel in Tel Aviv*. An optional two-day Eilat & Petra Extension is offered at the end of both the 8- or 10-day program for 2018 tour dates. However, starting in 2019, the Eilat & Petra Extension will only be offered following the 10-day program.
*Although not formally offered, a 9-day core program is possible including a full day of touring in Tel Aviv on Friday. Contact us for additional details.
Who staffs the tour?
The program is led by an experienced, licensed Israeli guide who is with the group on a 24/7 basis. Your guide will be fluent in English and deeply knowledgeable about the history, culture, environment, and landscapes of Israel. Our guides are charismatic educators with an expertise in informal education -- many of them also guide our BBYO teen groups. If your group has over 25 travelers, your tour will also be accompanied by an Israeli counselor who focuses on the experience of younger participants and provides additional support to the group in general. Finally, our travel takes place on a spacious, comfortable, air-conditioned bus with a dedicated driver.
NOTE: The Eilat Extension is generally not escorted.
How active is the touring?
Because we want you to get the most out of your time in Israel, our touring days are full, and there is quite a bit of travel by foot. While none of the walks are strenuous, you will find at the end of the day that you have taken a large number of steps! Be prepared for an average of 3-4 hours of walking a day over all manner of surfaces (cobblestones paths, nature trails, and uneven walkways, etc.). Additionally, the weather in Israel is warm, particularly over the summer, and the sun is more intense than you may be used to at home. When necessary, we will adjust the itinerary for your comfort, and you'll find that most days have opportunities to cool down with swimming or getting wet in general.
NOTE: Travelers who wish to take a break can opt-out as needed after coordinating with the guide, and in some cases, we offer less active programming alternatives for those who wish.
How can I incorporate a Bar or Bat Mitzvah as part of the experience?
Traveling to Israel as a family is an especially meaningful way to mark a child’s coming of age. There will be a brief ceremony led by our staff in the Galilee to mark the occasion for those who wish to participate (scheduled during free time). No preparation is required before the tour, and there is no extra cost. If you are interested in organizing a personalized ceremony, there are opportunities to do so before, during or after the tour.
for planning advice, if you wish to be referred to a local rabbi who can design and lead a ceremony that fits your own family’s vision, or if you are seeking "mitzvah project" ideas. Finally, keep in mind that becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is simply about reaching this traditional Jewish milestone age. No ceremony is required by Jewish law, and for many families, the mere act of traveling through the Land of Israel together is the most appropriate way to celebrate this happy occasion. Mazal tov!
What's the age composition of the group?
Groups are comprised of families spanning three generations and couples traveling without children are welcomed as well! Because of the active nature of the program, children traveling with their parents are typically age 8 or older. Group sizes typically range from 15 to 40 travelers max, and average group size is 25-30 travelers.
How is this a Jewish experience?
Israel Family Journey is a pluralistic Jewish travel experience open to all. Group meals are kosher, and there is no bus-based touring on Shabbat. The program is unaffiliated with any specific approach to Judaism. Travelers on Israel Family Journey arrive with varying degrees of Jewish affiliation, and non-Jewish family members and friends are welcomed. Our goal is to provide a complete first-time experience in Israel through the lens of Jewish history and identity.
How much of a group experience is this?
Our goal for the program is to create a sense of community among individual travelers – with participants gaining lasting new friendships and a richer experience as a result. There are also ample opportunities for personal exploration during the tour and many of the dinners are intentionally left free. In particular, Saturdays are designed to be less structured, and no programming is mandatory on any day. Participants are encouraged to arrive in Jerusalem earlier or stay in Tel Aviv longer to explore even more on their own. Group hotel reservations can be extended accordingly.
How all-inclusive is the experience?
In short, you're responsible for arranging your own flights to and from Israel, and we take care of most everything else! The program covers two meals a day, all touring, a fantastic staff team, hotel accommodations including luggage porterage, and deluxe motorcoach transportation. A VIP airport greeting and roundtrip airport transfers are offered on the arrival day, the day before the arrival day, and on the final evening of the program (see below for full details). You'll be responsible for one meal a day, specialty beverages at group meals, and staff gratuities.
How are special dietary needs accommodated?
Be sure to note any special dietary needs as part of your registration. We will coordinate with our hotel and restaurant meal providers to arrange special accommodations as necessary. We make a good faith effort to accommodate food allergy considerations, however, we can not make absolute guarantees on behalf of our meal providing partners.
What's the suggested staff gratuities?
It is customary in Israel to tip the Israeli guide and driver at the end of the program. As a rule of thumb, $100 per adult traveler is appropriate – or in the shekel equivalent. We recommend splitting that amount as follows: 1/3 for the driver (~$35) and 2/3 for the guide (~$65). Although not customary, you may also provide a gratuity to the Israeli counselor who joins groups with over 25 travelers. Gratuities for hotel staff and wait staff at group meals are already included in the cost of the program.
How do I get ready for the trip?
Take a moment to review our Pre-Trip Prep Guide.
Luggage tags are distributed approximately a month prior to arrival, and you'll also be invited to a program Facebook group to connect with fellow travelers before the program and stay in touch afterward.
How should I arrange my travel to and from Israel?
Basic guidelines for planning your travel to/from Israel are summarized below. More detailed advice is contained in the Pre-Trip Prep Guide
. Do not hesitate to contact us
if you have any questions or for advice on booking flights.
TRAVEL TO ISRAEL
TRAVEL FROM ISRAEL
- All participants are expected to make their own air travel arrangements to and from Israel (book your flights via a travel agent). The only international airport in Israel is "Ben Gurion" (airport code: TLV), located just 40 kilometers from Jerusalem (approx.25 miles) and 15 kilometers (approx. 9 miles) from Tel Aviv. Non-stop flights are available from several major North American cities, including NYC, DC, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark, Miami, and Toronto. Many connecting flights options are available via Europe.
- A VIP airport greeting and a private transfer to our Jerusalem hotel is complimentary for anyone arriving to Ben Gurion Airport as follows:
- NOTE: The transfers are private for Israel Family Journey travelers with a maximum wait time of 30 minutes if travelers on multiple flights are to be accommodated together.
- Those travelers arriving outside of these covered times can receive the same VIP airport greeting and transfer service to our hotel in Jerusalem for an additional fee depending on the size of the party (note: the cost of a standard taxi to Jerusalem is $80-$100)
- Travelers arriving at Ben Gurion Airport after 4:20pm on the first day of the program will likely miss the welcome dinner and programming this evening and will be responsible for their own transportation to the restaurant. We do not recommend it!
- Those travelers arriving in Israel early (which we recommend for acclimating in advance of the tour) can be accommodated by prior arrangement at the Mount Zion Hotel in Jerusalem based on our group rates, which includes breakfast and our standard cancellation terms.
TRAVEL WITH THE EILAT EXTENSION
- At the end of the core program (Thursday or Saturday night), participants will be escorted back to Ben Gurion Airport in time for overnight flights departing between 10:30pm and 1:00am the next day. No hotel is included this evening unless arranged separately.
- Participants booked on return flights outside of this window can be accommodated with an airport transfer by special arrangement, and additional fees will apply (note: taxis from Tel Aviv to Ben Gurion Airport are inexpensive, ubiquitous, and reliable).
- Those travelers extending their stay in Tel Aviv can be accommodated at the Crowne Plaza Beach Hotel based on our group rates, which include breakfast and our standard cancellation terms.
For those taking part in the Eilat Extension, we will arrange your connecting domestic flight from Eilat back to Tel Aviv according to your international departure time from Ben Gurion Airport. In some cases, the flight from Eilat will be to Ben Gurion Airport and in other cases, it will be to Sde Dov Airport in Tel Aviv. If the latter is the case, your transfer from Sde Dov to Ben Gurion Airport is included. We encourage you to book an international flight that departs between 10:30pm and 1:00am the next day. If you are booked on a flight that departs Ben Gurion Airport after 1:00am, you will likely need to spend the night at an airport hotel (additional cost applies) or make separate arrangements.
Those travelers extending their stay in Eilat can be accommodated at the Herods Palace Hotel based on our group rates
, which include breakfast and our standard cancellation terms
Can I have a professional book my flights?
Yes! Get all the peace of mind from having a professional travel agency book your international flights without paying a premium. Get started at www.authenticisrael.com/flights
What are the passport and visa rules for Israel?
Check to make sure that you know where your passport is and that it is not expired or about to expire. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date you arrive in Israel. If your passport expires within this period, please start the renewal process today. Many airlines will deny you boarding if your passport is not valid according to this policy. If you are traveling to Israel on a USA, Canadian, or European Union member country passport, a visa is not needed to enter Israel. If you are traveling on a passport from another country, you may need a visa to enter Israel. If needed, our office is able to provide you with an official ticket confirmation.
NOTE: If you're including the Petra in your travels with us, a Jordanian visa and all border crossing fees are included as part of the day tour package.
How do we approach safe travel in Israel?
Safe travel in Israel has been our guiding consideration for decades. We appreciate the responsibility that travelers entrust in us, and we care about your well-being in Israel like family. Key security-related protocols that we follow include:
- Traveling on private transportation only
- Traveling with a licensed Israeli guide at all times who has been trained in security response
- Avoiding travel to areas of heightened concern
- Use of hotels with a guard and a secure area
- 24/7 support from our headquarters office in Israel
- Close coordination with the Israeli security services via the "Situation Room"
- Willingness to modify our programming, staffing structure, and/or overall protocols as needed based on actual conditions where we travel in Israel.
Finally, in the rare event of an acute security event in Israel, we have issued full refunds at our own discretion in the past, and we will continue to do so in the future should we deem the situation appropriate.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to learn more about our approach to providing travel experiences which are safe, meaningful and joyous.